last week. Didn't mention it, because it was a big one (I am now half-a-century old!) and....well, I wasn't feeling it.
Herself, however, hit it out of the park. Let me back up a bit: We did Broadway Musicals as a class in Homeschool. 2 years; the first year was an in-depth study (using the Great Courses as a base, adding in some PBS documentaries), the 2nd was watching all the Musicals I could get my hands on, adding in reviews and any extras (for example: Kiss Me Kate, then watching Taming of the Shrew and doing a comparison. Same with Romeo & Juliet and West Side Story, etc.)
My *favorite* Musical is Phantom of the Opera. (Yes, ALW is a HACK, but the story is fun, the songs are singable, and the theatrics are outstanding. It's a fun experience!). We spent a few weeks on PotO; watching the film version, then watching the behind-the-scenes documentary, reading a synopsis of the story it was based on......and Herself was hooked. She told me then that if PotO came thru Dallas and we could afford it, we HAD to go. (I've seen it on stage 3 times before now - each time it was a slightly modified original production. Swinging chandelier and all. :lol:)
Well, this was the year. Our performance was yesterday.....I have to review it. It was AWESOME. And VASTLY different from the productions I've seen.
This version.......is......well, sorta steampunkish. Most of the productions have been....theatrical, for lack of a better word. This one was........the ONLY way I can describe it is to say that this is what you'd expect to see if you went back in time and watched a "contemporary" version (i.e.: Victorian) on stage. (I KNOW it's not actually Victorian, but it's set in quasi-Victorian Paris.)
The whole production was focused on the center of the stage - everything was designed to draw your eye *there*, and to make you "miss" the "off-stage" stuff going on. The stage hands were dressed like Victorian stagehands would have been (and the wardrobe department knocked it out of the park - they looked like poor, dirty, unwashed men.) The main part of the stage was a...box...in the middle of the stage that opened up to become the various sets, or spun around to become the Phantom's realm. IF you were familiar with the story, you'd find yourself glancing to the dark corners of the actual stage...and you'd see stuff going on "off stage" (which is really part of the action), slightly obscured in shadow - just like I imagine Victorian/Elizabethan plays were)....it really sold the mood of the Musical.
The special effects carried this point home - instead of using trap doors and modern technology (well, *obviously* modern), this used pyrotechnics and sleight-of-hand. The chandelier didn't *swing*; the Phantom "shot" the cable it was hanging from, and it dropped, stopping barely 3 feet above the audience (5 rows in front of us. *5* rows!!! Did I mention we had *fantastic* seats????) You could smell the "gunpowder", and see and feel the sparks. (At one point, the Phantom lights the lights at the front of the stage, and they flare up to 6'. We could FEEL the heat, y'all. I had to close my eyes because it was so bright.)
They cut some of my favorite scenes (the candelabras rising up from the river, and the wedding-dress jump scare), but honestly? They didn't need them. I enjoyed every minute.
Now, some critical analysis: the Phantom had a good voice, but it was straining in the top registers. He was *good*, but I've heard better (I'm NOT complaining too much, here. He was GOOD, just not Fantastic.) We had Christine's understudy - I can't imagine how good the actual star is, because this lady was phenomenal! Carlotta was the perfect diva - she overacted magnificently. :lol: Raoul was good......he maybe needed a little more "bottom", but honestly - the only singer I can really complain about was Phantom, and only because you could hear the strain as he tried to hit some of the higher notes.
It was fun. We enjoyed ourselves - and Herself was totally happy. We were among the best dressed - what happened to people? Used to, you dressed up to go to the theatre.......now? I saw a LOT of ripped jeans and t-shirts. :sigh:
Still. If you like Musicals, and IF you like Phantom, I highly recommend you go see this new production. It's different enough from the norm to make it new, and it was totally enjoyable.
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